Theatre Equus at Harrisburg's Farm Show Arena - Part Circus, Part Wild West Show, Part Equestrian Ballet
For Tommie Turvey, Jr., setting himself on fire and Roman riding a pair of horses over flaming jumps in Theatre Equus at Harrisburg, PA's Farm Show Arena, January 27 & 28, will be almost be a vacation. Turvey, who has appeared in feature films and television commercials, as a specialty feature act at a touring circus, and as a main character in a wild-west show, will be working with his well schooled Paint horses, Pokerjoe, Joker and Ace. He will Roman ride (standing upright, each foot on the back of a galloping horse) over a wall of fire, leap through rings of flames on horseback and Roman ride his horse while he is engulfed in flames--a dangerous stunt never attempted by anyone else. He will roll his co-stars onto their massive backs, where they'll lie relaxed, hooves in the air, before an audience of thousands, and perform many other amazing tricks as part of the two-hour show.
As challenging as this is, it's a piece of cake compared to his recent appearance at Asia/Pacific Equitana in Australia, where Turvey did the act with horses he'd met only twelve days before. In less than two weeks, he had trained the horses to perform dozens of tricks like rest upside down, sit like a dog, and jump over flaming jumps with him standing on their backs.
Turvey, who calls himself the Equine Extremist, is a daredevil and showman of the first order-kind of an equine Evil Knievel. He's a trainer and performer other horse trainers drop what they're doing to watch.
Turvey and two dozen other amazing "horse whisperers" will be in Harrisburg for the second annual Pennsylvania Horse World Expo, February 27-29. Theatre Equus, a professionally choreographed and scripted show held in conjunction with the Expo, is two hours of family entertainment starring horses -- part circus, part Wild West show, part equestrian ballet.
Theatre Equus will feature about thirty of the country's most highly trained horses, accompanied by music, enhanced lighting and narration. Trick riding, jousting knights, speeding chariots, reining, classical dressage, comedy acts, precision drill teams, and dancing Andalusians will be featured.
"Unlike most performances involving horses, which focus on one theme, Theatre Equus will feature a broad spectrum of remarkable performers," organizer Denise Parsons said. "It will be a quantum leap from the first, very popular Theatre Equus, which all but sold out the 7,700 seat Farm Show Arena last year."
Another performer is Austin Anderson, who has assembled a band of stunt men for a joust. The joust, originally developed for an operatic horse show and reformulated especially for the arena, includes sword fighting, trick riding, falling horses and visual effects along with jousting.
At the other entertainment extreme, dressage trainer Matt McLaughlin and his white Andalusian, Corral, will perform a "top hat and tails" dance on horseback to big band/swing music. McLaughlin, the former head trainer for the Royal Lippizaner Stallions, toured throughout Europe, North America and Australia performing with Corral, the lead Andalusian solo. Highly trained to perform haute e'cole or "high school" maneuvers like bowing, kneeling and rearing, Corral at age 19 is semi-retired and performs just a handful of times each year.
Audience members who are wowed by the performances can learn how it's done during Pennsylvania Horse World Expo (Feb. 27-29), one of the nation's largest equine consumer and trade shows. Turvey, McLaughlin and other Theatre Equus performers will talk about
their training methods Friday through Sunday during the Expo itself. Turvey will speak on advanced horse obedience, building a
foundation for the trick horse, and trick mounting. McLaughlin will speak on competitive dressage.
Held in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo, Theatre Equus starts at 8:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 28. Shows last approximately 2 hours and seating is limited. All tickets are sold as reserved seating and range from $12 to $18. Tickets are available at the show (while supplies last) or online at www.horseworldexpo.com (through February 18 - sorry, no phone
orders) only. Tickets for all levels, both days are still availble, but selling fast.
The Farm Show Arena, Cameron and Maclay Sts., Harrisburg, charges $5 per day for parking.
For more information on Theatre Equus or the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo, please refer to our web site at www.horseworlexpo.com